As colleagues greet each other on Monday mornings with “How was your weekend?”, there is a welcomed camaraderie of shared stories while people trickle in and pour their morning cups of coffee. There is a familiar sense of chatting and bonding with one another as computers warm up for the workweek. This is most likely a customary scene for office environments around the world as it has a natural, social flow to it. Since Wildbit is a primarily remote team, we’ve thought of ways to try and recreate that particular social experience.
We pride ourselves on being a family and part of that means being present and supportive of one another, inside and outside of work. While we may be physically apart from one another we still value and appreciate the need to connect in a real way. We decided to explore options for the team to authentically interact without forcing participation or interrupting workflow.
The first option we discussed was to host a weekly check-in meeting for people to pop in and say hello. That didn’t seem realistic for a few reasons but primarily it would be too forceful to have this conversation at a scheduled time each week (even though it is traditionally reserved for the Monday morning chatter). We considered forming a specific Slack channel but figured that would probably cause more interruptions in the “live” state of the conversation than desired.
We ultimately decided to experiment with Basecamp, to see if it was the right fit for this type of engagement. We primarily use Basecamp as a transparent communication tool for projects, teams, and company-wide docs. It also allows for follow/unfollow and adjustable notification settings which is very important to our team to minimize the “noise” that can sometimes hijack deep work. We wanted to respect the lines of business vs. social and weren’t sure how this approach would pan out. After a few weeks, we were overwhelmed with the response. It’s clear we’ve opened the door to something very special for our team.
With Basecamp’s automatic check-in tool, we ask everyone on their respective Monday morning: “How was your weekend?”
It’s been an eye-opening look into each others families, hobbies, and personalities. Not only has the team been receptive to the conversation but are highly engaged including videos and pictures to enhance their stories. It’s been fascinating to see people share their experiences in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions, motorcycle tours, drone navigation, race car driving, home improvement projects, pilot training, cycling events, and summer travel adventures.
It’s been refreshing to watch people explore their interests in cooking, camping, gardening, fishing, carpentry, and creating that perfect cup of caffeine. It’s beautiful to see the special moments shared with their children, significant others, friends and neighbors. It has offered a glimpse into those precious (and sometimes not so precious) interactions that occur when the computer is off. It has also presented a first-hand peek into the different landscapes of the world as our team has folks in the US, Canada, Russia, England, and Serbia.
I look forward to the stories popping up on my dashboard throughout the day on Mondays and into Tuesdays, reading up on activities, accomplishments, and sometimes just a plain old lazy Sunday. We’re now able to congratulate, encourage and share life with one another in a more intimate way than a heart on an Instagram post or thumbs up on Facebook. I didn’t notice a gap in connectivity before (and maybe that is because I work from the office HQ) but now I can’t imagine going back. What started as an attempt to make the team more in tune with each other has really catapulted a bond that we have found irreplaceable.